The once-renowned Nobel Peace Prize has lost much of its lustre in the public eye by the committee’s increasingly transparent desire to make the prize an extension of its left-wing politics. From rewarding outright Communists and terrorists, to failed American presidents, to the possibility that Jacques Chirac will be honored for his "heroic" efforts to defy Iraqi liberation, the prize has come to be seen as what it truly is: an annual political reward to the Left's most visible stalwarts.
In five months the Nobel Committee will announce the winner of this year’s Peace Prize. Because former president Jimmy Carter received the award last year, it is improbable that another American will take home the prize come October. Not since 1945 and 1946 has a country claimed two consecutive Nobel laureates in Peace. Dr. Irwin Abrams, professor emeritus at Antioch University and an expert on the prize, says "Two Americans in a row would be too much." But what about two anti-Americans in a row? This is the prospect facing the committee right now.
Last year, the selection of Carter was accompanied by a clear political message criticizing the policies of the Bush administration to disarm Saddam Hussein and liberate the Iraqi people. This polemical sniping, which cheapens what was once the world’s most prestigious award, is unfortunately nothing new.
The notion of the Nobel Committee sending a political message with its Peace Prize has a long and storied history - not all of it negative or leftist. Solidarity leader Lech Walesa was given the award in 1983 as an affront to the Polish Communists and the Soviet Union. The following year, Desmond Tutu took home the prize, sending a message of condemnation to the South African apartheid government, although Tutu was far from perfect himself. In 1989, the 14th Dalai Lama was chosen for the award, a clear reference to the iron fist the Communist Chinese applied in ruling occupied Tibet. These awards sent messages to repressive, dictatorial regimes. The regimes the Nobel Peace Prized censures had earned near-universal condemnation, often making the message of the award a forceful rebuke from the world community.
But the creeping politicization of the prize has exposed the deeper political agenda of the Nobel Committee--the agenda of the far Left. Fundamental to this philosophy is an ardent "pacifism," which is to say surrender in the face of hostile elements. The belief in world government and the primacy of international organizations in resolving all issues, great and small, is also vital. It argues that groups such as the United Nations should be the real focus of power in the world today. This is the agenda of environmentalists, peaceniks, anti-capitalists, and any other leftist activists that hold to the utopian vision of a global community.
Many of the past winners who have supported this agenda have gone unnoticed. Linus Pauling, winner of the 1962 award, is a prime example. Pauling was an outspoken critic of the nuclear arms race, a cause many would find respectable. In reality, though, he lobbied for a halt to U.S. nuclear testing, giving the Soviet Union an advantage in weapons of terror. Indeed, the nuclear disarmament lobby invariably called on America to abandon the free world to inevitable Soviet nuclear blackmail. The Soviet party line called for precisely this course of action. Beneath the surface, Pauling also championed several causes of the far Left and was investigated for Communist ties. Other such "pacifists" have won as well. In 1985, the prize was given to the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, a group founded with the explicit involvement of the Soviet Union. In fact, Yevgeny Chazov, Soviet Deputy Minister of Health, served as one of IPPNW’s three co-chairmen.
Ten years later, The Pugwash Conference on Science and World Affairs was given the prize "for their efforts to diminish the part played by nuclear arms in international politics and, in the longer run, to eliminate such arms." Pugwash, which was essentially moribund by the time of the award,was best known for the efforts of member Walt Rostow to promote the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty during the JFK Administration. If member Bertrand Russell’s pro-Soviet, socialist scribblings are any indication of the group’s orientation, one should not be encouraged. These winners say a lot about the committee and their support for this major plank of the leftist agenda.
Other times, however, the committee has been less subtle in their approach, awarding the prize to open members of the radical Left. The 1973 prize for Communist North Vietnam's Le Duc Tho springs to mind immediately. A more recent--and more blatant--example came in 1992 when the Nobel Committee awarded the prize to Guatemala's Rigoberta Menchu. The committee knew her accounts of class struggle and racial oppression were fraudulent. But Menchu, an ardent Marxist and supporter of the Communist Sandanistas, had spoken the committee's language. In exposing the lies of Menchu, however, the committee's political leanings were exposed as well.
And one cannot forget the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to terrorist ringleader Yasser Arafat, a man responsible for untold numbers of innocent deaths.
In the last two years, the Nobel committee has become even more forthright about its support for the leftist agenda. Gunnar Berge offered the Nobel Committee's patent approval of a global government during his 2001 presentation speech to the United Nations and Secretary-General Kofi Annan. He argued that in facing the challenges of the 21st Century, the only means of peaceful change can be through international organizations: "In the view of the Nobel Committee, that will be a task for the UN, if not in the form of a centralized world government then at least as the more efficient global instrument which the world so sorely needs."
This quotation is very telling. Berge here gives support, on behalf of the Nobel Committee, to the concept of a world government. In confronting the ills of the 21st Century, an international center of power is what "the world so sorely needs." His statement is in perfect sync with the views of the Left.
World events over the past two years have led to a collision course between this concept and the actions of the Bush administration. According to the Left, any attempt by a nation to assert their national sovereignty is seen as a danger to world peace. The war in Iraq was essentially America asserting this right over the opinion of the Franco-Russian United Nations Security Council. As a result, the Nobel Committee has chosen to make the United States the new target of their political ire.
Berge began his attack on the Bush administration in the same 2001 speech, taking a jab at America’s lack of confidence in the efficacy of the United Nations, saying "the USA provides the clearest illustration" of a country "selective in their attitudes to the UN," only favoring "an active UN when they need and see opportunities to obtain its support; but when the UN takes a different stance, they seek to limit its influence." The United States, in Berge’s eyes, was the major roadblock to a viable United Nations.
The admonition of America took a more direct form last year. Former president Jimmy Carter was officially given the 2002 Peace Prize for his commitment to "the principles that conflicts must as far as possible be resolved through mediation and international cooperation based on international law, respect for human rights and economic development." But Nobel Committee Chairman Gunnar Berge soon announced the real message behind the award, telling reporters that it "should be interpreted as a criticism of the line that the current (U.S.) administration has taken. It’s a kick in the leg (meaning a slap in the face) to all that follow the same line as the United States." The intentions of the committee were clear; they had used the Peace Prize as an instrument to reproach the Bush administration and its policies in Iraq.
The question, then, is not whether the Nobel Committee has openly come out against the Bush administration and for the agenda of the Left over the past two years; that much has already been proven. The question now is whether the prize will continue to be a tool of the peaceniks and anti-Americans, or will it once again be given on the basis of merit and true contribution to world peace. They have been offered that choice this year.
French President Jacques Chirac headlines the list of candidates for this year’s Peace Prize, which also also includes anti-war spokesmen Pope John Paul II and the truly seminal figure, U2 lead singer Bono. The French President has become somewhat of a hero to the Left for standing up to Bush (but not Saddam) over the past few months. But his real contribution to peace has been imaginary. His only efforts this year have gone towards opposing a war that over forty nations supported and perpetuating the rule of a brutal dictator, who happened to head a major client nation; hardly a record deserving of the Peace Prize.
A victory for Chirac would remove the last remaining doubts about the agenda of the Nobel Committee and its efforts to portray the United States as the greatest threat to world peace today. It would signify a new era in the politicization of the Peace Prize, one where the enemy of the Left is synonymous with the enemy of peace.
Many observers are skeptical that Chirac’s bid will be successful this year. But whoever wins this year, we will surely be careful to read between the lines. The Nobel Committee has the opportunity this year to begin the path back to a respectable and meaningful award, or it could continue its path to a leftist, anti-American, world government agenda and, much like the UN, a path to irrelevance.
We will know what choice they have made by this October. I, for one, am rooting for Bono this year.